09/20/12: Elie Wiesel: The Perils of Indifference

Elie Wiesel’s speech, The Perils of Indifference, concentrates on the subject matter of how “indifference is the root of all evil.” Wiesel enhances his speech by associating his own personal and historical childhood as a holocaust survivor to persuade his audience to act against all temptations and evils in the world. Wiesel demonstrates a wide variety of literary techniques in his speech through diction, imagery, details, language, and syntax.

Wiesel’s writing methods grasp the listener’s attention into a mood of sadness and regret of the temptation to be indifferent. The most apparent writing style of Wiesel is his use of interrogative sentences, which creates an interesting syntax to the speech. Such a successful risk allows Wiesel to connect with his audience at a more personal level without being contradicted since he allows his listeners to think for themselves. Furthermore, Wiesel uses descriptive, but disturbing imagery in his speech by describing the prisoners in Auschwitz, a concentration camp in Poland during World War II. The significance behind this action may be to startle his audience by providing them a sense of historical reality when people choose not to retaliate against an oppressor. In addition, Wiesel’s language revolves around his fear of the past, specifically the unacknowledged appreciation for human life in fascism, and hope for the future for nations to realize how they can make a difference in the upheaval in the world. Moreover, Wiesel diction choices such as indifference, suffering, tempting, and humanity are all parallel to each other to some degree. With the aforementioned vocabulary, one may construct the following sentence: the temptation of indifference may lead to suffering in humanity, which essentially can define the basis of Wiesel’s speech. Ultimately, Wiesel uses specific details in order to improve the credibility behind the purpose of his speech. For example, besides including the atrocities performed upon the Jews during World War II, he inputs the assassinations of virtuous people who fought for equality, such as Gandhi, the Kennedys, and Martin Luther King.

As one wise man once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  Individuals must not be bystanders; instead, they should gather the courage to act as leaders for universal righteousness.


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